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Category:    Home > Reviews > Spy > Action > Adventure > TV > Avengers 1962 (A&E DVD)

The Avengers ‘62

 

Picture: C     Sound: C-     Extras: C-     Episodes: B-

 

 

Getting back to the early years of The Avengers, A&E has issued the Avengers ’62 set when the show gained that permanent name in the second season after the show debuted as Police Surgeon with Ian Hendry as Dr. David Keel and Patrick Macnee as the mysterious figure named Steed.  An actor’s strike ended the show and when the dispute was over, Hendry went on to feature films.  Macnee stayed behind, Steed was developed more into the character we know today and the search was on for a new partner.

 

Though the show finally settled on Honor Blackman as Ms. Catherine Gale, Steed had three partners this first season and they all appear in this new DVD set.  Those other partners were Jon Rollason as Dr. Martin King, meant to be like Dr. Keel to some extent as well as NO RELATION to Tara King in the final seasons of the show, and Julie Stevens as lounge singer Venus Smith.  The episodes are as follows:

 

1)     Mr. Teddy Bear (9/29/62) – Originally featured on the Best Of The Original Avengers – Volume One set, the title assassin does what he does for the right price, but a military target has One-Ten (Douglas Muir) order Steed to get the killer with Cathy Gale’s help.

2)     Propellant 23 (10/6/62) – The title substance could power rockets in a way to win the Space Race and when a carrier is killed, Steed and Cathy have to compete with other agents to retrieve the prize.  Nicholas Courtney, Geoffrey Palmer and Catherine Woodville guest star.

3)     The Decapod (10/13/62) – Steed and Venus team up for the first time to protect a foreign visitor against assassination.  All is not as it appears, of course.  Philip Madoc guest stars.

4)     Bullseye (10/20/62) – In one of the better shows thanks to director Peter Hammond, Steed and Cathy look into illegal arms trading and murder.  Judy Parfitt guest stars.

5)     Mission To Montreux (10/27/62) – An interesting early entry with director Don Leaver, a young actress has top-secret film from U.S, intelligence, so more than a few people are ready to kill her for it.  Patricia English, Pamela Ann Davy, Iris Russell and Gerald Sim guest star.

6)     The Removal Men (11/3/62) – Not so hot Steed/Smith entry about murder for money gang that needs to be put out of business.

7)     The Mauritius Penny (11/10/62) – A priceless stamp is being sold under questionable circumstances to fund a crazy take-over plot.

8)     Death Of A Great Dane (11/17/62) – Frederick Jaeger shows up in this show that was later remade as the color Diana Rigg episode 50,000-Pound Breakfast as a courier is killed in an accident is carrying a fortune in diamonds.  They just happen to be in his stomach!

9)     The Sell-Out (11/24/62) – A U.N. official is nearly assassinated and Steed is ordered to investigate.  With Martin King helping out, Steed decides that the best way to protect the official is to impersonate him.  Now if only Steed can avoid getting killed himself!

10)  Death On the Rocks (12/1/62) – In a story unrelated to #8 above, another dead body turns up and is connected to diamonds.  This time, it is Cathy who impersonates someone, a Mrs. John Steed!  Too bad she gets abducted!

11)  Traitor In Zebra (12/8/62) – Is Steed’s old friend crane an enemy agent leaking top-secret information to enemies?  He and Cathy are about to find out.

12)  The Big Thinker (12/15/62) – A supercomputer is being sabotaged and turned on people in a fatal way.  A scientist is the first victim, serious enough for Cathy and Steed to investigate.

13)  Death Dispatch (12/22/62) – Steed and Cathy go to Jamaica to find out why British couriers are being picked off.  They do not understand what is worth killing for, because they cannot find anything.  Steed becomes the next courier and the next target.

14)  Dead On Course (12/29/62) – Martin King and Steed go to Ireland to investigate a plane wreck.  Some people are missing, while the plane may have contained some valuable hidden cargo.

 

 

The show was starting to go into the action/Spy direction it was really known for after the first season was a more straight-out drama.  Macnee was already recognizable as the Steed we know and though not up to the later filmed shows, these episodes have their moments and start to look better and better as compared to “reality TV” and just the pure ambition of the show.  It’s great to see the roots of a classic take shape and

 

The 1.33 X 1 image comes from old kinescope copies that are lucky they survived from their original live broadcasts.  The image is muddy as expected, though the difference between this and a U.S. kinescope is that this is the early days of the analog PAL format versus NTSC from the kinescopes of U.S. TV we see all the time.  The quality differences are interesting.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is the best that could be done to boost the very old monophonic sound to some kind of stereo, but there is one unfortunate catch.  There are pops and clicks that have been made louder right off the bat with Mr. Teddy Bear.  It seems worse than the previous DVD set it was issued on.  Not only does digital technology (like Criterion uses) to get rid of pops and clicks exist, but any technical person who just listened in and timed each episode manually could have simply cut those out.  Unfortunately, this was not done and you should be careful about playing these too loud until you are familiar with each show.

 

The only extra are stills on each of the four DVDs, standard for every release A&E has come up with so far, but commentaries and interviews should have been considered.  As we look forward to the filmed shows surfacing in digital High Definition form (the DVDs were transferred at 540i, while the new formats can do 1080p and would work best if Studio Canal+ makes 4K HD masters) in a year or two, this set and a bonus set to go with The Emma Peel MegaSet (reviewed elsewhere on this site with other Avengers titles) sold separately and not available to the press means the show is about as completely issued on DVD as expected.  Avengers ’63 and Avengers ’64 sets are the only one left due, which we hope to get to when issued.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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